Oyster investigators have visited more than a thousand hotels (1139, if we’re being specific) in Mexico, from Acapulco to Zihuatanejo. We’ve slept in their beds, sampled their food, taken siestas on their beaches — and compared their average room rates against their overall quality, service, and offerings. Take a look at our expert picks for the hotels with the best value in Mexico.
For Los Cabos all-inclusives, the Hyatt Ziva's a find: This family-friendly property has a fresh style; a luxury-hotel worthy spa; pools for families, kids, and adults; a lovely pond dotted with fire pits; and tons of dining and entertainment options. Rooms are attractive, and feature travertine bathrooms plus furnished balconies. Rates include buffet and a la carte dining (no reservations), all-day snacks, theater shows, Wi-Fi, and access to the kids' and teens' clubs.
The 81-room Bahia Hotel isn't directly on the beach (meaning the price difference between this hotel and oceanfront ones can get pretty drastic), but it's just a block away, and is home to a trendy, delicious restaurant, a coffee shop, and a relaxing pool area with cabanas and swim-up bar. Some rooms are more in need of an update than others, but all feature dark wood accents and white stucco walls. The rest of the hotel has equally chic decor (demonstrated in details such as the dozens of ceiling-hung lanterns in the restaurant). Affordable nightly rates and free parking make it a solid value pick.
Close to the bustle of downtown Isla Mujeres and along the beautiful sands of Playa Norte, Privilege Aluxes provides not only comfort but also a touch of luxury. The 124 rooms are spacious, feature a modern, minimalist decor -- though at times it may seem too austere -- and come outfitted with amenities such as alarm clock radios, minibars, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Many are suites and have impressive ocean views and large, private terraces with their own Jacuzzis. Outside, the grounds are well kept, dotted with tall palm trees and two glistening pools. The shoreline is just steps away and the hotel provides relaxing beach beds shaded by towering palm roofs. There’s an all-inclusive option for guests, and there are three on-site restaurants to choose from.
This small, service-oriented beachfront boutique has a quiet spot on the southern end of the Hotel Zone that remains in walking distance to restaurants, bars, and shops. The mid-range Encantada is strongly focused on preserving and sharing local culture: Its restaurant serves authentic regional dishes; its bar pours local craft brews and liquors and hosts local music nights; and the property uses regional artisanal goods throughout. The eight spacious, eco-friendly guest rooms have no air-conditioning or TVs, but they do have fans and private furnished terraces. Full breakfast (eggs, yogurt and granola, fresh breads, fruit, and coffee or tea), Wi-Fi, loaner bikes, and on-site parking are all free.
The mid-range, family-friendly Royal Solaris is an affordable all-inclusive option on the beach. This attractive time-share property (beware of sales pitches) has ample amenities, including four pools, four bars, and four restaurants, two of which are a la carte (though food, overall, is not a highlight). Rooms have traditional furnishings, mini-fridges stocked with free beer and water, and balconies. Daily activities keep the masses occupied, and while the beautiful beach is typically not swimmable, there are loungers under thatched umbrellas. A free kids' club, teens' club, nightly entertainment, dance classes, and a water park mean that families are the norm here, but the spa and adult-only pool are good features for couples.
The mid-range, 100-room Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa has a pretty location along a gorgeous stretch of beach, a sprawling oceanfront pool with swim-up bar, and an optional all-inclusive plan. Thoughtful extras add value: welcome drinks, a continental breakfast (though it starts early, so late risers may miss all the good stuff), tea and snacks at sunset, and an excellent happy hour at the bar. Room decor is contemporary, the bathrooms have jetted tubs, and the kitchenettes are handy when trying to save a few bucks -- there's even a grocery store within walking distance.
A Cape Cod aesthetic meets Mexican colors at this relaxing beachfront spot. All 19 rooms have cool tile or concrete floors, personal patio space, and come with free breakfast and hot coffee (delivered to the room), 24-hour electricity and air-conditioning, organic toiletries, and great ocean views. Thanks to the hotel’s location -- in a semi-restricted area -- guests get a mix of coastline spots from a soft sand beach to elevated grassy banks to a rugged and rocky beachfront. Alas, the water here is choppy and not made for swimming. There’s also an excellent on-site restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, a fantastic bar with tasty cocktails and healthy smoothies, and a small pool. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
This three-and-a-half-pearl boutique hotel is situated in central San Miguel de Allende, three blocks from the historic city center. Although the property has a huge courtyard as well as seemingly countless arched doorways, there are only six contemporary and spacious rooms with stylish, artistic details. Compared with the similarly priced Casa Quetzal, Hotel Nena is a much better value, with a delightful restaurant and rooftop bar plus an outdoor pool. The hotel is ideal for romantic couples or for small wedding parties, but it lacks central heating and can get chilly at night during the colder months.
The 20-room, adult-only Beach Tulum is one of the best options at its price point. Its 20 rooms are right on the beach (you can step out onto the sand from the ground-floor units), the beachfront restaurant, Ziggy's, has great food (and a generous free breakfast with fresh juice and smoothies), and the small size allows for lots of personalized attention from the staff. Charming rooms combine rustic and modern elements, and all have ample outdoor space and ocean views. Property features are impressive for a boutique, and include a pretty, meandering pool; an outdoor whirlpool; and daily yoga classes. Free Wi-Fi, parking, tequila and wine tasting events, and welcome cocktails at the lobby bar all add to the value. Year-round mosquitos can be an issue.
This locally-owned 152-room resort is one of the lowest-priced beachfront options in San Jose del Cabo. All-inclusive packages offer decent food and basic liquors with nightly entertainment, which gets lively participation from a mostly Canadian crowd. Simple rooms have balconies (all have partial ocean views) and mini-fridges, although bathrooms could stand some updates. When not using the outdoor pool with swim-up bar, guests can take long walks on the pristine beach, or hit balls on the putting green. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the Cactus Restaurant, while beachside Wahoo Taco Bar provides snacks during the day. Free parking and Wi-Fi are provided.
Tucked away along the Sea of Cortez near Baja's capital is this 115-room luxurious (and yet affordable) resort with panoramic views in all directions. Amenities run rampant with three pools, access to La Paz Beach, an 18-hole golf course, a private marina, and a spa. If that's not enough, there's tennis, a yoga deck, and free use of non-motorized water sports (though the selection is limited). Rooms have slightly exposed walk-in showers and masculine decor, but guests can step out onto balconies for cheery vantage points. Open-air restaurants -- like Steinbeck’s, which boasts a boggling number of tequilas, and the Beach Club for stellar sunsets -- serve quality decor. The resort often hosts weddings, corporate groups, and romantic weekenders -- meaning it might not be the best pick for some families.
The 15-room Hotel Casa San Angel is a charming boutique hotel located right at the start of the prestigious Paseo Montejo, Merida’s main avenue that’s lined with restaurants, shops, beautiful mansions, and museums. Centered around an enchanting inner courtyard festooned with potted plants and greenery, the property provides a relaxing stay -- a tranquil atmosphere that's maintained by a no-kids-under-12 policy. Rooms are spacious and homey, and though amenities are limited -- there are no in-room minibars, mini-fridges, or tea/coffee facilities -- they feature pleasant, Mexican decor, lovely bathrooms, and hammocks. The hotel’s restaurant serves tasty Mexican fare, and there’s a small outdoor pool on-site. There’s also a boutique stocked with an assortment of Mexican arts and crafts made by local artists.
Welk Resort Sirena Del Mar is a picturesque cliff-side property overlooking the Sea of Cortez and the famous Los Arcos. The 36-villa resort is beautifully appointed with travertine stone floors, thatched palapa roofs, and two stunning infinity pools. Three private decks allow for sunbathing throughout the resort, and the intimate cove beach prevents outside guests and vendors from wandering the property. Each villa comes complete with a fully stocked kitchen, accented by granite countertops and stone floors; colorful furniture and artwork; and simple bedrooms with huge sliding doors that lead to private balconies. Each bathroom has a separate Jacuzzi tub and shower.
Located across the street from Playa del Carmen's town square, La Pasion Hotel Boutique has 34 rooms that are both practical and stylish, though some are small. Thoughtful on-site features include booze tastings, two pools and a hot tub, a fantastic free breakfast spread (fresh pastries and hot a la carte menu), and lots of indoor and outdoor lounge space, plus spa treatments for an extra charge. The hotel is just outside of the La Quinta Avenida zone, but it's one of Playa Del Carmen's better and quieter boutiques. For those who want to be closer to the action, check rates at Aventura Mexicana.
It'll be hard to top the charm for the price at Casa Costa Azul, a 14-room boutique hotel on one of Los Cabos' few swimmable beaches. This hotel is ready-made for kicking back -- hammocks are strung between palm trees, and there's a sleek pool deck, a yoga studio, and an excellent homey restaurant. This family-run property's rooms are individually designed, with rustic hardwood furniture, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and bathrooms covered in vibrant Mexican tile. All rooms have at least partial sea views from terraces. There is a highway behind the hotel that's a bit noisy, but the surf is the loudest sound at night.
The 34-room, mid-range El Meson de los Poetas is a boutique hotel housed in a converted 18th-century mansion that's situated in Guanajuato's historic city center. The charming property is well located for visiting the capital city's major attractions, like the Diego Rivera Home and Museum just across the street. Each of the homey guest rooms here is named after a poet and features colorful artwork, while several units also include full kitchens. An excellent breakfast is served on-site in the hotel's bright central courtyard, but lunch and dinner aren't available on site. There is no elevator in the four-story building, so guests need to be prepared to climb stairs.
Villa Bella is a charming little bed-and-breakfast boasting extraordinary views of both Banderas Bay and Sierra Madre mountains. Most of its seven individually decorated rooms have appealing rustic touches such as wooden beams and stoneware floors, and offer expansive vistas. Some have full kitchens and large jetted tubs. The action during the day revolves around the beautiful lap pool, and those who want to go to the beach should note that it’s a short drive away or a 20-minute walk down a steep hill.
Hotel Casa Gonzalez is a charming and historic property that functions more like a cozy guest house than a traditional hotel. Four historic "homes" built in the 1930s and '40s are scattered through a lush courtyard. The 33 rooms are renovated to include flat-screen TVs and private bathrooms, most have an outdoor area as well. Meals are served in a charming dining room on communal tables; breakfast isn't included but the prices are low. The American and British embassies are in the neighborhood, and guests often book long-term stays at this casual and welcoming family-run budget property while they deal with immigration issues.
The eight-room Hotel Hacienda Merida is an upper-middle-range boutique hotel with charming, colonial-style interiors centered around a gorgeous inner courtyard with a lovely pool. There’s also an elegant lobby bar, and for guests seeking a dose of pampering, massage treatments are available. Rooms are homey and colorful, with lovely canopy beds and bathrooms with large walk-in rainfall showers, but some of the air-conditioning units can be loud, and there are no tea/coffee facilities, minibars, or mini-fridges. The prime location is ideal for travelers seeking proximity to the city’s sights, many of which are a short walk away from the hotel.
The charming Hacienda Santa Cruz is a countryside getaway surrounded by beautiful, lush gardens about 25-minutes outside of Merida. The upper-middle-range property has 11 colorful rooms with vibrant artwork and textiles, though fairly spare furnishings and amenities; rooms lack TVs and Internet access, but common areas throughout the property offer free Wi-Fi. The lovely grounds include two outdoor pools, and there’s a spa offering a range of treatments. There’s also an on-site restaurant that serves modern Mexican fare and free breakfast.